How to Get Married in Oklahoma
November 1st, 2018
By Lori Lindsey
Oklahoma recognizes two types of marriages—ceremonial and common law. Each type of marriage has different requirements.
A ceremonial marriage is what we typically think of when two people say they are getting married with the big fancy party and all of that stuff. A ceremonial marriage has four main requirements—voluntary consent, both parties must be competent to consent, a marriage license, and solemnization. Of these, voluntary consent is pretty obvious—both parties must agree to get married. The other three requirements have a couple of details involved and we will look at each in turn.
Both parties must be legally competent to marry. In order to have the capacity to consent to a marriage, Oklahoma statutes require that:
Neither party is married to another;
The parties cannot be related;
Parties must be eighteen or have parental consent;
Parties must be mentally competent; and
Parties cannot marry a third party within six months of a divorce.
A marriage license must be obtained. Licenses may be issued by a judge or clerk of a district court. The license is valid for 30 days. The license is also valid in any county within the state. Oklahoma offers a reduced fee for a marriage license if the couple completes a premarital counseling program.
There are three parts to the solemnization requirement. Only certain persons are authorized to conduct a ceremony. This includes judges, retired judges, and ordained and authorized religious officials. Marriages must be witnessed by two competent adult witnesses. Lastly, the marriage license also contains a blank marriage certificate, which must be filled out, signed by the person officiating the marriage, signed by the witnesses, and returned within five days of the ceremony to the judge or clerk that issued the license.
If there are any mistakes in the licensing or the solemnization requirements, the marriage may result in a common law marriage. In that case, the marriage would still be valid if the requirements for a common law marriage are met.
Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that recognizes a common law marriage. A common law marriage is a valid marriage, which is binding upon the fulfillment of certain requirements. Like a ceremonial marriage, a common law marriage requires a divorce or death to end.
Oklahoma requires four elements to be satisfied to create a common law marriage. These are:
- Mutual Agreement—both parties must intend and agree to be spouses in an exclusive and permanent relationship.
- Cohabitation as spouses—there is no minimum time requirement for this element.
- The parties must hold themselves out publicly as spouses.
- Both parties must be legally competent to marry, according to the competency requirements listed above.
States that do not recognize common law marriages created in their own state will recognize a common law marriage created in Oklahoma or another state where common law marriages are allowed by law.
Typically, common law marriages come into play either when the parties are seeking to end the relationship or when one of the parties dies and the estate goes to probate. In these instances, the burden of proof is on the party asserting that there is a common law marriage and that party must establish each element listed above by clear and convincing evidence.